Swiss watchmaking at its finest Discover the cradle of fine Swiss watchmaking: La-Chaux-de-Fonds

The region of Jura & Three Lakes has a pre-historic ring to it (the Jurassic age is named after the Jura mountains, as any dinosaur fan will tell you). But Jura has a lot more going for it than its precious thousand-year-old dinosaur bones.

It is truly the cradle of the fine Swiss horlogerie, with its top center, La-Chaux-de-Fonds and its sister town, Le Locle, but also the neighboring Neuchâtel and Bienne/ Biel and in the whole Jura region.

If you want to understand more about Swiss watch making, about its origins and how it shaped entire towns, this is the place to start.

 

La-Chaux-de-Fonds: UNESCO Heritage site

To the untrained eye La-Chaux-de-Fonds may seem like a dull town with its quiet grid lined streets and similar styled houses. You must look closer to see the beauty in the finer details.

La Chaux-de-Fonds typical grid street

 

Photo credits: © Jura & Three Lakes, A. Henchoz

In 2009 La-Chaux-de-Fonds and its sister town, Le Locle, have been appointed as UNESCO heritage sites and for good reason. They are a living example of manufacturing towns dedicated to and built by a single industry: watch making. 

Learn more about the history: top watchmaking museums

 

The International Clock-making Museum in La-Chaux-de-Fonds is absolutely impressive and a must-see for any horlogerie aficionado.     

Photo credits: © Tourisme neuchâtelois

Our other picks are the Clock-making Museum in Le Locle (Château des Monts) and the meticulously rebuilt Museum of Watchcases (Le Noirmont).

Vintage machinery impeccably restored at the Museum of Watchcases in Le Noirmont.

Photo credits: © Jura Tourisme

An off-the-beaten-path museum is the International Centre for Mechanical Art (CIMA), Sainte-Croix where an enchanted mechanical forest awaits.

With its mechanical singing birds, automata and many other surprises, this museum is a very special place.

A futuristic automaton at CIMA Museum

Photo credits: © Yverdon-les-Bains Région

If you are an automata fan, check out also the Art & History Museum in Neuchatel for the Jacquet-Droz automates

The three Jacquet – Droz automata put on a show every Sunday of the month at the Arts and History Museum in Neuchâtel.

Watch making experiences: our top picks

There is nothing quite like living the craft (and the art) of watchmaking. Being able to step in the shoes of a watchmaker and learn some of this ancestral savoir-faire in a watchmaking atelier is quite remarkable.

Throughout the Jura region, there are several workshops available that will teach you the basics in the art of watchmaking, but also, more importantly, will allow you to make your own watch.

WORKSHOP | ASSEMBLE YOUR OWN SWISS WATCH

How awesome is this? Assembling your own Swiss watch under the supervision of a maître horloger.

Photo credits: © Tourisme neuchâtelois, Guillaume Perret

Aren't watches fascinating? At the very heart of Swiss watchmaking, you have the unique opportunity to make your own mechanical watch with a master watchmaker and take it home. The best souvenir ever. Made by you.

Check out the several workshops available in Le Locle and La Chaux-de-Fonds, starting from CHF 750.-

Find out more information and book!

 

WORKSHOP | LIVING HOROLOGY

Be a watchmaker for a day

Photo credits: © Anita Voirol

Watchmaking is a four centuries old art in the Jura region. Four centuries of passionate craftsmanship and tradition. During this workshop you can slip in the shoes of a watchmaker and learn the art of mastering time (and maybe some trade secrets).

You can also assemble your own watch and take it home for an additional fee.

Workshops start at CHF 140.-

Find out more information and book!

WORKSHOP | EXPLORATION DAY AT INITIUM

Spend an unforgettable day in the beautiful scenery of Franches-Montagnes in the Jura, exploring and practicing fine watchmaking. Visit key museums in the area, be treated to an exquisite meal and assemble your own watch.

A full day of discoveries and exquisite experiences.

The workshop takes place at the Initium learning facility in Le Noirmont and starts at CHF 525.-

Find out more information and book!

 

Exclusive experiences

The region of Jura and Three-Lakes is also home to prestigious watchmaking companies and some of these open their doors to the public for exclusive visits.

Secrets unveiled at Zenith

Zenith is the first watchmaking manufacture in the world to open to the public at its original site. This is nothing short of sensational, given the centuries' old cloak of secrecy that has surrounded the watchmaking trade. 

Starting with 4 May of this year, Zenith has opened its doors to the public and welcomes visitors every Friday morning. Reservation is required.

Photo credits: © Fabien Nissels

Find out more and plan your visit!

An exclusive visit to Corum

Photo credits: © Tourisme neuchâtelois

The luxury brand Corum also opens its doors for exclusive visits lasting 2 hours. Find out why six American presidents have worn a Corum watch and discover the fascinating universe of this exquisite brand.

Find out more and plan your visit!

Another mono-brand museum worth seeing is the Omega Museum (Biel/Bienne). An impressive variety of exhibits testify to the exceptional value of this iconic Swiss brand. Entrance is free.

There is also the Longines Museum in St-Imier. The Longines museum retraces the fascinating history of the brand with the winged hour glass, throughout the previous centuries.

There's more

There are two more very special details worth mentioning about La-Chaux-de-Fonds. First of all, is the birth place of Le Corbusier and the proud owner of his first work as an independent architect, the Maison Blanche.

La Maison Blanche, designed for the architect's parents, is open to the public.

Photo credits: © Switzerland Tourism, Markus Buehler-Rasom

Second of all, it is also a unique Art Nouveau center in Switzerland. La-Chaux-de-Fonds owns numerous buildings with original and impressive Art Nouveau design, unique to Switzerland.

Photo credits: © Tourisme neuchâtelois

 

A wonderful journey of discovery awaits! Don't forget to try the emblematic drink from the area: the Absinth!

 

Photo credits: © Guillaume Perret

 

Would you like to find out more about some of these impressive places and exquisite experiences? Request more information and plan your perfect visit visiting jurathreelakes.ch or by using any of these contact data:
Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | Youtube | Pinterest: @Jura3Lacs
info@j3l.ch
+41 32 328 40 10

 

Author: HELLO SWITZERLAND EDITORIAL TEAM

Hello Switzerland helps you to live and work in Switzerland. Discover upcoming events and Swiss culture, or contact our Relocation Helpline for free advice and professional support on housing, moving, financials, telecoms, vehicles, career advice and much more! Call +41 58 356 17 77 or visit our Helpline page.

provided by

Take control of your relocation

Free guidance and support lets you take control of your own relocation.

Order extra support easily if you need it.

» Browse our Relocation Store

Comments
Tell us what you think
Featured Partners Thanks to all supporting partners of Hello Switzerland